C. Martin's Commentary

Posted January 28, 2006 (user submitted)

A news article published in the local paper confirmed what I had suspected for a long while -- my hometown mall was dying, as in "final nail in the coffin." Pasadena Town Square opened in 1982 in Houston's blue-collar, southeast suburb of Pasadena. It was (and is) one of the only, if not the only, mall in the Houston area not located on a major highway.

Tucked into the north Pasadena intersection of Harris and Pasadena Boulevard (then called Tatar Street), the mall's anchors were Foley's, Palais Royal and Joske's (later Dillard's). Some of the 1980s-era stores were Walgreens, Sound Warehouse, Chess King, MacDougal's Electronics, Spencer Gifts, J. Riggins, B. Dalton AND Waldenbooks, Casual Corner, 5-7-9, Circus World (later Kay-Bee Toys) and Visible Changes.

The food court, called The Patio, included a James Coney Island, Corn Dog on a Stick, Sbarro, Chick-Fil-A (probably the most popular thing in the mall now), a cookie place (now Mrs. Fields') and an independently owned Chinese place and an ice cream shop (owned by the same family, and both still there). There was a large fountain near The Patio, and on the other end of the mall, in the Foley's wing, there was a huge bronze-colored statue of a man riding an armadillo. I'm sure it had some kind of historical significance to the town. It was removed in the late 1990s and moved to the town's convention center.

The mall was still doing well when I was in junior high school, in the early 90s. It started to go downhill in the late 90s, despite the addition of a whole new Sears store (literally built onto the mall) that became a fourth anchor. But that's also when several of the big-name tenants pulled out, only to be replaced by mom-and-pop shops (urban clothing and pager shops among them). In addition to the anchors, the dwindling number of national stores that remain in 2006 (that I can think of) include Regis Hair Salon, FYE (formerly Camelot Music), Pretzelmaker (not in the food court), Famous Footwear, Payless, Foot Locker, Footaction, Gordon's and Zales Jewelers, Things Remembered, Bath and Body Works, Journeys and TSO.

The final nail I mentioned earlier came when Federated bought May and announced that all Foley's stores would become Macy's. Federated opted not to convert the Pasadena Town Square Foley's to a Macy's and will close the store. Then Dillard's announced it is closing on March 13, 2006, possibly signaling an end to Pasadena Town Square. The decline of Pasadena Town Square can be blamed on the shift of Pasadena's middle class to the south side of town, and the increasing crime rate on the north side, where the mall is located. Families choose to shop at the south side's family-friendly Fairway Plaza shopping center (opened in 1998 and still growing).

I went to the Pasadena Town Square Regis to get my hair cut for years, even after I moved to southwest Houston, but recently I've gone to other locations because it just doesn't feel safe traversing the mall parking lot as a single female. Pasadena Town Square is not dead yet, but with the news about Foley's and Dillard's (both substantially larger than the other two anchors )closing, the end is definitely near.

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